May 19th West Buttress Denali Expedition – Calling in from Camp 1

The May 19th West Buttress Denali Expedition has made it to Camp 1!

Climber “Micky” (?) called in to update us on their progress via satellite phone.

Give it a listen by clicking this link: Audio Recording

After taking a “weather day” at Basecamp, the team packed up their sleds and began the long plod across the lower Kahiltna Glacier to Camp 1 (7800′, 2377m). The challenge comes quickly on Denali as the first thing the climbers encounter along their route is the long sloping downhill of Heartbreak Hill, which takes you down the Southeast Fork of the Kahiltna Glacier, where Basecamp is located, to the main arm of the Kahiltna Glacier.

Why is it called Heartbreak Hill, you ask? Well, since the West Buttress Route is an “out and back” route, everything you go down, you must later go back up. And at the very end of the expedition, after the long descent from the upper mountain, the never-ending gradual uphill climb of Heartbreak Hill is the last obstacle standing between your tired expedition team and the hot showers and cold beer of Talkeetna!

Heartbreak Hill’s gentle downslope can also convince climbers that “Hey, this sled isn’t that heavy!”, which eventually leads to heartbreak when they hit the flat stretches of the main Kahiltna and finally feel the full pull of 100lbs of food and gear on their backpack straps.

Crossing the lower Kahiltna Glacier. The summit is just 13,000 ft up from here!

The May 19th Team is now positioned at the base of “Ski Hill”and will begin to scheme moves farther up the mountain in the coming days. Wishing you the best of luck, team! 

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  1. Sounding strong team & making good progress. You are all amazing, strong and wonderful people. Keep your spirits high team!

    @ Ben Vella, I love you. See you around that corner ❤️❤️

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